Officer with spinal injury cycles 140 miles in aid of other people with mental health problems
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A Winsford-based officer has completed a daunting charity challenge to help other people with mental health problems.
Police Constable Neil Jones, of Cheshire Constabulary’s Initial Investigation Team, cycled 140 miles in aid of a mental health charity on Saturday 22 May despite being hampered by the effects of a spinal injury he sustained in the line of duty.
The 41-year-old was joined by other officers, friends and members of three Cheshire-based cycling clubs for The Thin Blue Loop.
Starting and finishing at Cheshire Constabulary’s headquarters in Winsford, they cycled between 18 police stations in the county to raise money for, and awareness of, Mind, the mental health and well-being charity.
PC Jones, a dad-of-two who has been unable to work on the frontline since his spine was injured when his police car was rammed by a stolen van in January 2019, said: “I am delighted to have completed the exhausting charity challenge…with a little help from my friends.
“The originally intention was for just fellow PC Lee Spencer and I to do the challenge. He is a good friend from my time working in Cheshire’s Roads and Crime Unit and he had helped me train for The Thin Blue Loop.
“However, other friends, colleagues and members of the Cheshire, Cheshire Maverick and Tatton Velo cycling clubs ended up doing the challenge alongside us.
“They heard about what we were doing and wanted to support us.
“Twelve of us completed the challenge from start to finish, and at one point there were 16 of us taking part.
“It was fantastic having so much support on what was a long day of cycling. We willed each other on, and the group really helped me to complete the challenge.
“We did it in around 13-and-a-half hours, with a few stops along the way.
“It was the most tiring thing I have ever done. It pushed me to the limit and I practically slept for two straight days afterwards, but all the training beforehand and the effort on the day itself was well worth it.
“I set up a JustGiving page for the challenge and set myself the target of raising £3,687 for Mind, the mental health charity. That is a figure which is personal to me and my career at Cheshire Constabulary.
“I am thrilled to say that not only has that target been reached, it has been surpassed.
“The amount raised so far is more than £4,200.”
Mind, the mental health charity has been offering information and advice to people with mental health problems and lobbying the Government and local authorities on their behalf for more than 70 years.
PC Jones added: “The charity is close to my heart.
“I have had mental health problems, which cause invisible barriers that you have to overcome, for a long period of my life.
“I have been able to control the issues with treatments and medications after they were identified more than four years ago, but my mental health demons resurfaced after I was injured at work and forced to have an extended period of sickness leave.
“I was left needing to fight both a physical and a mental battle, trying to come to terms with the fact that I am unlikely to return to my full duties ever again.
“The injuries and subsequent condition, radiculopathy, has left me with reduced control and function of my left limbs, preventing me from continuing with my original sporting love, running, as impactive sports are no longer possible.
“Cycling was recommended as a method of rehabilitation and reasonable exercise, and I find that it gives me the freedom of space and time.
“It enables me to blow the physical and mental cobwebs away, allowing fresh thoughts, clarity and reason.
“I came up with the idea of The Thin Blue Loop during one of my rides and would like to thank everyone who helped me complete it and raise so much money to aid others with mental health issues.
“To all those who have made a donation, I can’t thank you enough.”
Donations are still being accepted via the JustGiving page.
To make a donation go online at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thethinblueloop.